Aspiring journalists are often told getting their “foot in the door” is an essential part of carving out a successful career in the media industry. But few are ever taught how.
For Annalise Bolt, winner of the 2015 Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship, getting her start in the industry required more than just waiting for the door to open.
While still studying at university, Ms Bolt applied for a scholarship offered via the Walkley Foundation.
The Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship with Nine is an annual 14-week paid internship, offered to applicants 28 years or younger who are looking to develop their broadcast journalism skills.
Through 10 weeks’ work at Nine News, the Today Show, A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, nine.com.au and other outlets, winners are given the rare opportunity to pave their way in the industry.
Winners can also undertake a short industry course of their choice at the Australian Film TV & Radio School and spend four weeks in the Walkley office working on the annual awards.
The scholarship helped Ms Bolt land her first media job.
“I was offered a job at Nine as soon as I finished [the internship],” she said.
“I moved to Perth and was working at Nine for three years, mostly as a producer, but also reporting there as well.”
After working as the executive producer for Today Perth News, Ms Bolt moved to NSW where she is currently working for Nine News Sydney; splitting her time as the executive producer of the news for the Today Show and as the producer for the 6pm news.
For Ms Bolt, the Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship was her first opportunity to network and gain invaluable experience in the industry.
“I’m just so thankful because I really don’t know how I would have gotten that foot in the door,” Ms Bolt said.
“It’s so daunting when you’re at university and you’re not really sure how you’re going to get that first job.
“I think opportunities like this are so rare and it’s important to just jump on it because you might not get another chance like this.”
Ms Bolt’s success at Nine has been recognised by the Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship founder herself, award-winning producer Anita Jacoby who is encouraging other young journalists to apply for the scholarship.
“It’s a great privilege to be a journalist these days,” she said.
“It’s exciting to see young people grasp the notion of what it means to be a journalist.
“How they can take their ideas and experience and tell a community what we need to know about what’s happening in the world.”
Ms Jacoby has offered the scholarship since 2013, seeing 11 winners go on to lead successful careers in the media industry.
One of the winners, Lydia Bilton, landed her first job as the Social Media Producer for 60 Minutes after completing the Scholarship.
Ms Jacoby highlights the success of other finalists who secured jobs after networking through the scholarship experience.
“One of our finalists got a job on Insight, so you don’t necessarily have to be a winner,” she said.
“Finalists also get the opportunity to showcase who and what they are in front of a panel of esteemed journalists including Jenny Brockie and the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, Kirsty Thomson, and there can be other opportunities that come from this.”
The 2015 winner, Ms Bolt, said the opportunities stemming from the scholarship process were too rare to pass up and urged those interested to “put your hand up for everything because you never know what can happen”.
“And even if you don’t win the scholarship, there’s so much great networking through the process,” she said.
“I have a lot of colleagues now who either went through the scholarship, or were finalists, and got good connections through that – and that’s how they got a job.”
For hopefuls looking to apply for this year’s scholarship, Ms Jacoby has offered advice on how to make applications stand out.
“Please, no spelling mistakes,” she said.
“Also, think about the way you express yourself in the application – your passion and drive, and why you really want this scholarship.
“Show us that you’re really committed.”
Finalists should also demonstrate their enthusiasm during the interviews, which would be offered in-person and on Zoom.
“We look for people with plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of get up and go, who can identify stories, who can generate story ideas, and people who are really engaged in the world,” Ms Jacoby said.
“The glass is half full, not half empty.”
Applications for the 2021 scholarship close at midnight on Monday, April 26.